There is no doubt that service marketplaces are becoming the usual way to find help. The ease of use is a major consideration. Convenient discovery of services/skills forms the basis of a service marketplace’s offering to clients/customers and opportunities for paid work form the basis of its offering to freelance professionals. This has made an existing marketplace more liquid, better managed, and more transparent.
For example, consider that you are a boat owner and are trying to get a number of quotes from maritime service providers. Without an online tool, you’d have to find and contact some providers, extract quotes, send them specifications. Using an online marketplace, you can fill in your specifications online and let them contact you or better still, be matched to the ones most suitable for you.
This is exactly the kind of problem that FreeBoard, a maritime marketplace, solves with its new mobile platform. It works by matching clients with high-quality independent professionals/enterprises with the skills, pricing and availability needed for maritime servicing. This is part of the emerging wave of “Uber-fication of services”. If you can hit the Uber app to get a ride when you need it, why wouldn’t you do the same to find a person to help you service your boat at the push of a button?
Here, we are in conversation with Wade Jackson from Freeboard, talking about the company’s journey from an idea born out of personal experience to a fully functional mobile platform in partnership with Next Juggernaut.
Q1) Starting an On-Demand boat maintenance service is definitely a great idea. Tell us something about FreeBoard and your personal motivation for starting this service?
The genesis for FreeBoard was out of personal experience. Historically, we have struggled to find service providers for our own boats. We used to rely on old contacts or word-of-mouth from boating partners and friends. However, we found that many of these service providers were either too busy or not in the area anymore—which was very inefficient and with a limited boating season window in Michigan—very frustrating. And then, one day, we were having a discussion on the exact topic of boat repair, when Lee said, “There should just be an app for this”. We searched and could not find any current apps in market that really were a true maritime marketplace — linking boat owners with service providers. So, we thought, why not us—let’s build it. So we did and that’s where the idea of FreeBoard started.
Q2) Could you shed some light on FreeBoard’s Business Model?
FreeBoard is a maritime marketplace, designed for efficiently linking boat owners with locally rated boat service providers in order to satisfy any boat need. The app allows boat owners to conveniently search for local service professionals depending on need, while also providing a gateway for simple, hassle-free transactions.
Q3) What is the value proposition that you offer?
FreeBoard’s value proposition is two-fold. First, from a boat owner’s perspective, FreeBoard can instantly link boat owners with a greater number of local service providers, which can save time, energy, and potentially money. In addition, because the app facilitates the entire service transaction, it can provide updates to the boat owner on service progress as well as storing all service records for later use – giving greater peace of mind. For service providers, FreeBoard opens new growth opportunities through access to new customers while also improving business efficiency – including seamlessly updating and connecting with clients on job status, managing service appointments via the integrated calendar, facilitating immediate payment, and storing invoices – essentially eliminating paperwork.
Q4) How did you solve the initial egg and chicken problem to gain skilled boat maintenance experts & customers on your platform?
The benefit immediacy to service providers that FreeBoard provides, especially when compared to the current solutions available in market, will drive their acceptance higher during launch. The fact that service providers will be able to immediately experience business efficiency improvements & benefits like the instant payment gateway and the ability to manage service appointments via the integrated calendar, are two examples of how FreeBoard can provide immediate value. Looking into the future, as service providers become more comfortable with the application, and continue to join, it will only enhance the user experience for boat owners, joining FreeBoard revolution.
Q5) How is FreeBoard different from other boat service platforms?
FreeBoard provides a comprehensive experience for both service providers and boat owners. While other boat service platforms specialize into select services or are vertically integrated service platforms (pushing on the services of the host), FreeBoard is designed to be a one-stop-shop, linking boat owners with a wide-selection of local service professionals from varying specialties and backgrounds, without bias.
Q6) How has the experience with Juggernaut been?
The team at Juggernaut have been excellent partners throughout the development, build, and launch process. The team applied historical knowledge and best-practices to help our team through road-blocks. More than anything, consultative approach to app development felt like a true partnership. At no time did we feel that our project wasn’t a priority for the team, and having the same project manager from start to finish added efficiency and helped build a strong working relationship. However, what has been most appreciated is how receptive the team at Juggernaut has been to making changes on the fly, without warning – that level of flexibility and responsiveness is, arguably, one of their strongest advantages compared to other companies.
Q7) Are you satisfied with your technology platform as it exists today?
We are extremely satisfied with the delivered technology—but also the speed to market with the solution that the team delivered and the quality at which they delivered it were exceptional.
Q8) What is one particular Marketing Tool or process which you swear by, that has helped you gain more users on the platform?
We are in launch phase now, but we expect to heavily leverage social media platforms in order to showcase how the app works and spread awareness.
Q9) Are you planning to expand FreeBoard to tap more geographical locations? If yes, what would be your strategy?
Our plan is to pilot FreeBoard in SE Michigan, which has the highest number of registered boats per capita in the US, and SE Wisconsin. Those learnings and levels of market acceptance will drive expansion efforts throughout the Great Lakes Basin.
Q10) What do you feel is the future of the On-Demand economy and how can it help people and businesses alike?
In our opinion, the On-Demand Economy is here to stay and will continue to proliferate across every industry—from lawn services to consulting services. The resource efficiencies, immediacy and flexibility On-Demand provides to both users and providers is something that will drive acceptance. And, what’s clear is that large organizations recognize this change as well, given the fact that many are beginning to pilot on-demand solutions of their own core businesses or invest in On-Demand start-ups (GM & Lyft).
Q11) How do you see FreeBoard evolving in coming years?
FreeBoard will change depending on the customer. We will monitor usage patterns as well as continue to reach out for feedback on aspects that could be changed, improved, or introduced.
Q12) Any advice for startups trying to make it big in the On-Demand space?
Before making the jump, ensure you’ve done your research. Ask questions, read industry reports, examine competitors—lay the foundation first. After all that is done, building the app will be the easy part.